THANK you James Lungu of Kalulushi for closely following up this column – he wrote saying he greatly enjoyed the stories in which I have for the last two weeks been appraising the National Schools Arts Association of Zambia (NASAAZ) festival held in Mansa at Mansa College of Education.
James; I remember him very well, is an old friend we together once engaged in theatre. He said reviewing the NASAAZ festival as I did took him back to the good old days of active theatrical activities.
Today I make my last of the three series I have discussed the NASAAZ, particularly the Mansa festival, and want to end up requesting all the participants of such a festival to take keen interest in my write-up; preparing for an arts festival of that nature should not have easily been considered one of those trouble-free tasks!
Drama at the nascent level is very special requiring careful, a cautious hand and more rousing insights than wanting to aggressively get your way out.
For the most part during the Mansa festival, the primary drama and poetry categories were full of unquestionable talent; the boys and girls were so full of energy, vigor, liveliness; untapped skills and the thirsty for them to learn was visibly registered on their active faces. For a larger part, the mistakes they committed on stage were done inadvertently, unknowingly, such that what these pupils needed were guidance, direction, supervision, control and management if their performances were to be highly traced.
Chingola’s Kabundi Primary School with It’s Your Fault by David Malimba scored 70.3 per cent against the close rival New Kamulanga of Lusaka who had 67.6 per cent with their play Menu of Vengeance by Emmanuel Mwape pursued by a tally of Southern Province’s Zambezi Primary and Beliya Primary of Northwestern both at 58.6 per cent. Zambezi staged When you are Blessed by K Simbuwa and Beliya had His Dying Wish by Zhize Tengwe. Muchinga Province had Kalalapebwe primary with 51 per cent (fourth), Nsakaluba of Luapula Province’s Humble Me Oh God by Persevere Kaonga scored 50.6 per cent in fifth position, 46 per cent went to St Francis of Northern with a play Strong in Hard Times and Makulu ‘C’ Primary school of Central province marked 42.3 per cent with Sydney Mumba The Incest.
The results somehow mirrored a low standard of performance, yet the bubbling talent was notable; best lead actor was Lameck Phiri from New Kamulanga’s play while the leading actress came from Kabundi Primary, Jester Kilalo in It’s Your Fault.
The supporting lead actor went to Zambezi Primary school’s role called Njonginjo in the play entitled, Blessed; the best supporting lead actress was Deborah Phiri from Menu of Vengeance.
The best script award went to It’s Your Fault, and its director was considered the best. For the cameo award Inspector in It’s Your Fault took the day.
In poetry, primary schools again showed lots of promise with Livingstone Primary leading the pack trailed by Chipapa from Lusaka and Kasompe from Chingola in that order. Beliya from North-Western, Malole (Northern), Luapula’s Our Lady of Mercy came sixth while Chishimba (Central Province) and Muchinga’s Kalalapebwe at eighth.
Best recitals were done by Shadreck Muzhile of Southern Province in Black Yoke and for the female; Tina Munkondya from The Words of Wisdom (Chilengwa Primary) was the best.
Interestingly children with special needs showed immense potential, and NASAAZ should be extolled for promoting and encompassing these young learners with difficulties.
Both recitals and drama done by the learners with special needs whose actions meant more than the words were encouraging, and muse to watch; additionally it reminded me of the diverse use of communicative language. The general combination of local languages with English for which English was the main focus nearly all the plays showcased a legacy that made the players ‘feel at home’ and comfortable using local languages.
In the primary category of special schools; participation were by St Mulumba (Southern), Kapoche Special Unit (Lusaka), Dag Hammerjoeld (Copperbelt), Mbulu (Northern), Cheshire Homes of Northwestern in Solwezi and Central Province’s Boma primary schools.
There was Chilengwa primary (Copperbelt) in the drama category then Malaikha Special school of Southern Province, Cheshire Homes and Boma Special School.
At secondary school level, special unit schools were Solwezi Urban Secondary (North-Western), Mumbwa secondary, and Ndola’s Lions School and Munali Secondary from Lusaka.
For all the performances; patrons, matrons and directors should pay attention to pupils’ stage movements which are calculated; sometimes a director will draw invisible thin lines between one move from another.
Directors should realise that the voice has a lot to offer; speed of the spoken word can be annoying if the audience is unable to pick what the actor is saying; the voice like sentences should fluctuate and undulating to escape being boring.
Young people are generally brisk and full of life; it is this energy which should be chopped down to suit the characters. It was sad to note that more of the actors and actresses thought a husband speaks with so much force leaving the wives at their mercies!
And who says men often speak in anger and on top of their voices in every quarrel at home? See what; even when a daughter turns up pregnant, I do not entirely admit that the immediate reaction from the father and mother is outburst disapprove! No, there is need for gradual reaction, after following the story line, and then parents can show anger! Not outbursts!
Meanwhile, I am aware that I have resentfully whined over the lack of ZNBC to record the NASAAZ festival; on the other hand, a little bird whispered to me that ZNBC was after all doing very well in the face of financial hardships. I have not dispelled that ZNBC has loose funds, and that under whatever circumstances must sing my song, but my righteous anger was that I want them to capture good local content generally available at a festival like the one under review! I thought ZNBC could have modestly taken advantage; however, if ZNBC feels it is fine with what is already available for our content, amen! I will leave this subject at that for now.
For all those with opinions, comments, ideas and views on theatre especially local theatre, let me hear from you like the mail I received from James Lungu.
Next week, I will look at Wounded Buffalo, a fresh play by an upcoming and budding playwright making strides at Chingola Arts Society by the name of Alick Chileshe.
John.firstname.lastname@example.org – 0955-0967-0977-710975